If one car man­u­fac­turer can of­fer a full range of stan­dard fea­tures at a sim­i­lar price point, Mic van Zyl asks why can’t they all?

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents - Mic van Zyl is the di­rec­tor of Iron­man 4x4 Africa, the sole im­porter and dis­trib­u­tor of the full range of Iron­man 4x4 prod­ucts.

The pop­u­lar­ity of dou­ble cab bakkies is at an all­time high. The choice of which one to spend your hard-earned cash on has be­come rather dif­fi­cult. I have found this to be true when dis­cussing this topic with a num­ber of peo­ple. There is a high level of brand loy­alty from cur­rent bakkie owners. This is ce­mented by the fact that these ve­hi­cles seem to just get bet­ter and bet­ter with ev­ery new gen­er­a­tion. There is, how­ever, a large seg­ment of prospec­tive first­time dou­ble cab buy­ers com­ing

ABS, ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol sys­tems, and airbags should fea­ture on the very top of the stan­dard­fea­ture list for any ve­hi­cle.

from brands which do not of­fer this type of ve­hi­cle in their ranges. Brand loy­alty doesn’t fea­ture in their de­ci­sion-mak­ing process. The cur­rent crop of top dou­ble cab bakkies in­clude mod­els from Toy­ota, Ford, Mazda, VW, Mit­subishi, Isuzu and Nis­san. All are great mul­tipur­pose lifestyle ve­hi­cles. While they are all ca­pa­ble off-road, the de­gree of ca­pa­bil­ity does vary from one model to the next. When it comes to the abil­ity to ac­ces­sorise these bakkies and bet­ter pre­pare them for se­ri­ous over­land­ing or very rough ter­rain, the gaps be­come even wider. There has also been a sub­tle shift in fo­cus from some of the above-men­tioned bakkies. Some have be­come more ori­en­tated to an up­mar­ket multi-pur­pose lifestyle role while oth­ers have more of a tough work­horse-feel about them. In be­tween are some that do a pretty good job all round. What is rather per­plex­ing is the vast dif­fer­ence in the lev­els of stan­dard equip­ment be­tween the top mod­els from the above man­u­fac­tur­ers, es­pe­cially in ve­hi­cles around the R600 000 mark. Per­sonal pref­er­ence for niceties and must-haves vary from one per­son to the next, but there are ar­guably some items which are es­sen­tial from a safety point of view. Nice-to-haves in­clude key­less en­try, push but­ton start, heated seats, mood light­ing, re­frig­er­ated glove­boxes, sun­roofs, fold­ing wing mir­rors, load bay light­ing, slid­ing rear win­dows, cup hold­ers, rear pas­sen­ger air vents, and il­lu­mi­nated van­ity mir­rors. One how­ever sim­ply can­not place a price on ac­tive and pas­sive safety equip­ment in your ve­hi­cle. ABS, ve­hi­cle sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol sys­tems, and airbags should fea­ture on the very top of the stan­dard fea­ture list for any ve­hi­cle. I find it in­ex­cus­able that the Amarok does not of­fer rear side airbags in their ve­hi­cles, never mind the top spec mod­els. The Amarok does, how­ever, have one of the best off-road brak­ing sys­tems on of­fer. The Ford Ranger Wild­track of­fers adap­tive cruise con­trol as well as lane keep as­sist, which are great fea­tures to help you stay safe. Re­verse cam­era and park dis­tance con­trol both front and rear are in my opin­ion es­sen­tial for ne­go­ti­at­ing the ur­ban jun­gle, es­pe­cially in park­ing lots where the bays were clearly not de­signed for a dou­ble cab bakkie. Park­ing ar­eas are shared with pedes­tri­ans, es­pe­cially small ones which are hard to spot out of a dou­ble cab when re­vers­ing. Driv­ing po­si­tion is not merely a func­tion of com­fort. When ne­go­ti­at­ing se­ri­ously chal­leng­ing ter­rain, the wrong driv­ing po­si­tion could lead to mo­men­tary loss of con­trol over steer­ing and ped­als. Try­ing to ad­just an in­cor­rect driv­ing po­si­tion man­u­ally while on the move is wrong but I too have found my­self do­ing this when the go­ing gets rough. Elec­tric seat ad­just­ment is ex­act and you do not have to move the seat with your body weight. It is there­fore un­for­tu­nate that I find my­self ven­tur­ing away from my favourite, mar­ket-lead­ing brand when con­sid­er­ing my own up­com­ing dou­ble cab 4x4 auto pur­chase. My favourite is just too thin with stan­dard fea­tures. If one of the fierce com­peti­tors can of­fer a full range of stan­dard fea­tures at a sim­i­lar price point, why can’t they all?

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